10 times President Obama did pop culture right 10 times President Obama did pop culture right
 President Obama celebrates his 55th birthday Thursday, his last spent at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. In light of the occasion and the nearing end of his presidential... 10 times President Obama did pop culture right

1. When he brushed his shoulders off.

Obama may have gotten a little dirt on him during his ABC debate dust-up with Hillary Clintonback in April 2008, but rather than let Clinton’s offensives get to him, the then-presidential hopeful channeled his inner Jay Z, invoking the rapper’s classic Dirt Off Your Shouldersingle. “When you’re running for the presidency, then you’ve got to expect it,” Obama said of the attacks, “and you know, you’ve just kinda gotta let it…”

Cue Jay Z’s iconic gesture. 

2. When he implored donors to Stay Together.

He may have missed the Reverend during his campaign fundraiser at Harlem’s Apollo Theater back in January 2012, but that didn’t stop Obama from taking donors to church with a rendition of Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together. The crooner-in-chief’s performance also appeared to hit all the right notes with Green, who reportedly told TMZ that he “nailed” it.

3. When he joined Star Trek‘s Nichelle Nichols in the Vulcan salute.


Taken 2/29/12 in the Oval Office – Live Long & Prosper! – via @RealNichelle

At ease, POTUS. Back in February 2012, Obama entertained the Star Trek legend — who played Lt. Uhura aboard the USS Enterprise — at the White House, with Nichols later sharing their out-of-this-world selfie.

4. When he casually appeared on Between Two Ferns.

In March 2014, the president appeared on the parody talk show to promote his health care plan and remind young viewers of the looming deadline. He also traded barbs with comedian, actor and host Zach Galifianakis, who at one point asked, “What is it like to be the last black president?” to which Obama replied, “Seriously? What’s it like for this to be the last time you ever talk to a president?” Clap back then, Obama.

5. When he enlisted Keegan-Michael Key — aka Luther — as his anger translator.

The move was a sly wink to a 2012 skit from the acclaimed Comedy Central sketch series,Key & Peele

…and it gave guests at White House Correspondents’ Dinner as well as viewers at home this unforgettable exchange.

Obama: “Because despite our differences, we count on the press to shed light.”


6. When he covered Out magazine’s Out 100 issue.

In Out’s Out 100 issue which named him “Ally of the year,” Obama offered a glimpse into the evolution of his views on LGBT equality and called for the end of discriminatory practices.

“When we talk about LGBT issues, we emphasize the importance of universal human rights — the right to freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly and the importance of non-violence, non-discrimination, and equality under the law — and those don’t change or go away just because someone is a member of the LGBT community,” he told Out‘s Aaron Hicklin. “So, while some people try to claim that homosexuality doesn’t exist in their culture or that we are trying to impose ‘foreign’ values, the truth is that LGBT people are members of all societies and the protection of human rights is a universal value.”

7. When he took a quick spin with Jerry Seinfeld back in December…

President Obama was Seinfeld’s guest on the comedian’s streaming series “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.” USA TODAY

…to again promote his health care plan and, in all honesty, enjoy a few spins in that ’63 Corvette Stingray Split Window Coupe.

8. When he settled the Drake vs. Kendrick debate.

As part of the annual #YouTubeAsksObama series, YouTube star Swoozie tested Obama’s pop culture sensibilities, at one point quizzing him on which rapper he’d choose between heavyweights Drake and Kendrick Lamar. “I think Drake is an outstanding entertainer, but Kendrick — his lyrics, his last album was outstanding,” Obama replied. “Best album, I think, last year.” (Apparently, the Recording Academy didn’t get that memo.)

9. When he Slow Jammed the News.

And then slow roasted GOP presidential nominee, Donald Trump.

10. When he penned an essay on feminism for Glamour.

On his 55th birthday, Obama gifted readers with an honest piece on feminism and gender equality, in which he addressed Michelle’s struggles to balance life as a working mother, the lack of dad-shaming when he chose work over family and how his daughters bolstered his own feminist consciousness.

“I’d like to think that I’ve been pretty aware of the unique challenges women face—it’s what has shaped my own feminism,” he wrote. “But I also have to admit that when you’re the father of two daughters, you become even more aware of how gender stereotypes pervade our society. You see the subtle and not-so-subtle social cues transmitted through culture. You feel the enormous pressure girls are under to look and behave and even think a certain way… It is absolutely men’s responsibility to fight sexism too. And as spouses and partners and boyfriends, we need to work hard and be deliberate about creating truly equal relationships.”

Henry Okafor

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